Wednesday, 20 July 2016

20th July 1816: Derby Magistrates fear a Luddite raid on the local arms depot

Derby, July 20th, 1816.—

My Lord,

We addressed a letter to your Lordship, on the 15th of June last year, in which we represented our apprehensions of an attack upon the Government depot of arms, and military stores near this town, being meditated by the Luddites of Nottinghamshire.—We also expressed our opinion, that the ordinary guard, kept at the depot, was in insufficient for its defence, and that the building was insecure; and we took the liberty of suggesting, not only that the regular guard should be increased, but that the building should be further fortified.—

That the Luddites will attempt to possess themselves of the arms in the depot, is no longer a conjecture. Information to this effect (which in other respects has been proved to be true) has been given to the gentlemen, who are engaged in the investigation of the late outrage at Loughbro’: and we understand, that information to the same effect, but thro’ a different channel, has been conveyed to the magistrates of Nottingham.—

It has been seen, in the outrage at Loughbro’, with what facility, and success, the Luddite conspiracy, organized as it is, and comprizing many men, acquainted with the use of arms, and military discipline, can assemble a force, of from 120 to 150 men, and attack a building, of considerable strength, watched & guarded, close to a populous town,—and surrounded by houses. The depot is situated in a very retired situation, on a private road, at a distance of a mile from the town of Derby, and is wholly dependent, upon its own strength, for its security. From the representations which are made to us, it appears to be more easy of access,—and as incapable of effectual assistance, with its present means of defence, against attack, as the factory at Loughbro’.—

Considering the state of the Country, and our military establishment, to maintain a constant guard, by day and night, of sufficient strength to defend the depot against the threatened attack, may be attended with inconvenience to Government.—We therefore take the liberty of repeating our former suggestion, that the regular guard should be increased in a certain degree, and the building so far fortified, as to be rendered capable of resisting an attack, until an alarm can be given, and assistance be brought from the town of Derby.—

Whatever is to be done, should be done speedily.—We therefore most earnestly entreat the immediate attention of Your Lordship, to this most important subject.—

We have [etc]

Danl Parker Coke
J Balguy
Bache Heathcote

To the Rt Honble Lord Sidmouth
His Majesty's principal Secretary
of State for the home department—

This letter can be found at HO 42/152. The Magistrates' 1815 letter to the Home Office was dated the 19th of June, not the 15th.

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